Central University of Technology (SOUTH AFRICA)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2015 Proceedings
Publication year: 2015
Pages: 362-370
ISBN: 978-84-606-5763-7
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 9th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 2-4 March, 2015
Location: Madrid, Spain
This study investigated students’ alternative conceptions about electric circuits and the effect of activity-based instructional approaches in ameliorating these alternative conceptions. The approach took into account the prior beliefs of the students. A learning sequence was developed, presenting a variety of learning experiences in such a way and order that learners' alternative conceptions could progressively be changed into scientifically accepted ones. The sequence progressed from contextual to conceptual to formal activities. Co-operative learning, scientific enquiry, verbalisation and analogous reasoning techniques were used to guide learners in the acquisition of scientific concepts. The approach was based on the assertion that learners' scientific knowledge and understanding are socially constructed through talk, activity and interaction around meaningful problems and tools.

The research population consisted of hundred (100) first-year science students enrolled at a South African university both from the NCS and the OSC (Nated 550). The test that served as pre- and post-test probed into learners' alternative conceptions about electric circuits. A theoretical framework, based on activity-theory as it is applied in a constructivist view of learning, was developed. A pre-post-test comparison group design was followed. In particular, the pre-test helped to identify alternative conceptions held by the students in the research sample. This was then followed by activity-based interventions within the pedagogical aegis of OBE with a view to alleviate the identified alternatives conceptions. These interventions were followed by a post-test in order to ascertain the effectiveness of the interventions in alleviating the identified alternative conceptions.

A single pre-test/post-test comparison group design was followed. Data analysis was carried out by the use of the “t” test statistic, as well as the average normalised gain <g> scores. The findings showed highly statistically significant gains between the pre-test and post-test scores for both NCS and OSC groups on all the measures(p < 0,05).The average normalised gain was larger than 0,3, thus indicating the effectiveness of the intervention). There was no significant difference in the performance of the two groups.
Normalised gains, activity-based teaching.